Fourteen years ago I was preparing for the birth of my son. I was a yoga teacher and an elementary school teacher in a private school. When I wrote my birth plan, I decided I was going to try for a natural birth, but wanted to be in a hospital in case I decided to ask for an epidural. I had never done this before. How would I know what I needed in that moment? The yogis around me scoffed at a hospital birth and the possibility of epidural, cesarian birth, medical interventions, etc. My co-workers laughed their heads off at me wanting to have natural childbirth. Why would you have a tooth pulled without novocaine they said. I learned then: you are damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
Fast forward to 2018. I don’t watch the news and I limit my time on social media so I can make up my own mind about the world around me. But on Valentine’s Day when I heard of yet another mass killing and I heard the kids were speaking up, I knew it was time to do something with this. I didn’t know what. I walk the fine line of leading people in yoga, but also running a business and not wanting to upset the apple cart. Then I heard about a group of parents at our school who decided to create #hugourschool. This was an event to literally circle our school with love to let our kids and teachers know that we, as a community, will keep them safe and loved. This was not about shaming the victims, taking away guns, or politicizing the death of our nation’s children. The event had a great turn out from both political parties, parents and kids alike. The school was encircled with 600+ people holding hands. A drum beat seventeen times. Tears were shed. Hugs were then exchanged all around. The event was beautiful and exactly what it was meant to be.
…And then the newsfeed comments began. Just like childbirth, everyone had an opinion and it was coming from all sides! Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. One side- “Those liberal Stone parents are brainwashing their children.” “Look at all those snowflakes wasting my tax dollars.” On the other- “This is a national walk out. These hug our school events are missing the point.” “Hugging a school says nothing about guns.” Since when have all of our experiences been the same? Since when do we process pain in the same way? This event, to me, was a very age appropriate message for our children and teachers: You are safe. We’ve got your backs. This event, allowed me to experience the grief I had been holding in every time someone in our country has been killed in mass violent attacks. This event, for me, allowed me to hold hands with my daughter’s teacher and cry alongside her, and the hug we shared after held both our pain and all mothers’ pain around our nation. You could feel it! We held space for each other. We held space for our grief. We held hands and hearts even if for a moment. So please don’t criticize how we did things or how someone else does things, it doesn’t do a thing except add more pain to our world. We did something. We showed up. We held each other. We showed our children we can come together and that love can help us heal.
As our country becomes more polarized, I ask you to please think about this… Our pain, our stories are not the same. They never will be. But how we approach each other should be the same. We share several things: being human, living in America, belonging to someone (mother, father, sister, brother, cousin). Each of us will tend to grief and pain differently. But how we tend to each other should be the same. We can be loving, kind, respectful, humble, honest if we choose. May we remember our shared humanity and may it surpass our ideology so we can once again be kind and love our neighbors on both sides of the fence.